It would be very useful to be able to control what the search engine thinks I'm actually searching for. Taken from: http://unqualified-reservation...
A more intriguing question is whether the Graffiti approach can be applied to full-text search. Many modern search engines, notably the hideous, awfully-named Bing, are actually multiple applications under the hood - just like WA. If Bing figures out that you are searching for a product, it will show you one UI. If it figures out that you are searching for a celebrity, it will show you another UI. It may also switch algorithms, data sets, etc, etc. I'm sure Google has all kinds of analogous, if more subtle, meta-algorithms.
While generic full-text search, unlike generic data visualization, remains a viable application and a very useful one, specialized search might (or might not - this is not my area of expertise) be an even more useful one. If the user has an affordance by which to tell the algorithm the purpose or category of her search, the whole problem of guessing which application to direct the query to disappears and is solved perfectly. A whole class of category errors ceases to exist.
My guess is that if there is any "next thing" in search interfaces, it will come not from smarter UIs, but from dumber ones in which the user does more work - the Graffiti effect. If a small quantity of user effort can produce a substantial improvement in user experience (which is a big if), the user will accept the bargain. Hey, it made Jeff Hawkins rich.